[notice]A monthly column by Vivienne Solomons who is a legal consultant who passionately believes that God wants His people to make a difference right where they are and to stand up for what is true and just. She is also passionate about encouraging young women to walk victoriously with God and she is engaged in a challenging faith journey as a parent of a child with special needs.[/notice]
Unlike my two younger siblings, I’ve lived almost half my life on a different continent and in a different hemisphere from my Dad. This can take a toll on any relationship. It has certainly taken its toll on ours. While we have had countless conversations over the years, we have also missed so many special and significant moments in each other’s lives. There can be no substitute, even in the computer age, for spending time face to face. For it is in the giving and spending of our time, that we are truly known. As the years go by, and with a child of my own to care for now, I find myself reflecting more and more on the kind of man my dad is and, in particular, the values and passions he instilled in me growing up. Since he does not welcome open displays of emotion, this year I have chosen to write a letter to tell him how much I love him and to say thank you for the role he has played in shaping me into the woman I am today. I hope my letter inspires you to do the same.
As the years have passed, our conversations have focussed more and more on the present and, of course, the future. I understand that there are things you would have liked to have done differently, to have done over, even and that some things you have chosen rather to forget. But today I would like to look back and remember.
I remember the many wonderful walks in the lush green Welsh countryside, up hills and down valleys, through forests and along streams. Picking berries and collecting nuts; spying deer and trying to chase squirrels up trees. To this day, I enjoy walking and being in nature, and its myriad of sights and sounds provides welcome rest for my soul no matter the season of my life.
I remember that during some of those walks we would find ourselves in the ruins of an old castle and how you would regale us with its history from hundreds of years before. The names of kings and queens and the dates of battles rolled easily and swiftly off your tongue. Surely, it was there that my great love of history was birthed. Today I am a gatherer of all sorts of information and pay great attention to the smallest of details, just like you.
I remember all the times we spent sitting across the kitchen table from each other, you patiently helping me with my Maths homework. Your enthusiasm for the subject inspired me to take it on and not let go until I had found the solution. This ability, to not give up on something until I have considered all angles (pun intended) and explored all possibilities has served me well in a variety of different settings throughout my life.
I remember how you worked two jobs yet somehow still found the time to meet us at the door with a hot lunch when the three of us arrived home from school. You have never been afraid of hard work, and that includes housework! Thank you for instilling in me a good work ethic and a willingness to find the time to serve others.
I remember how your desire for a better life for your family (as well as a healthy dose of a sense of adventure) caused you to seek out opportunities abroad when the future in Wales looked bleak, and how we finally settled in South Africa. Thank you for trying to make it work for almost twenty years before reluctantly returning to the land of your birth. I daresay, it is this attitude that has played a role in my willingness to set off on my own adventures across land and sea, and to work hard to make it work.
I remember when the new South Africa was still in its infancy, how open and willing you were to meet my future husband and to give him the benefit of the doubt despite the fact that he was from another race and culture group, and despite Mam’s firm stance on the matter. Thank you for the gift of allowing me to ‘go against the grain’ of what was normal and acceptable at the time, and the freedom to follow my heart wherever it may lead.
I remember how you chose to take care of Mam at home when Alzheimer’s first showed itself, and then later, when it tightened its grip on her. I remember how, even now, you continue to visit her every day in the care home, making sure that she is well taken care of. Thank you for your great example of ongoing commitment to her best quality of life and care under challenging circumstances.
Thank you, Dad for these and other wonderful memories. Thank you for lessons learned and passions shared.
Happy Father’s Day!
Much love from your daughter,